|A's, Red Sox play opener in US after starting season in Japan|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 31 March 2008 14:53|
A week after opening the baseball season against each other in Japan, the two teams will play their first game stateside against each other on Tuesday night in Oakland's home opener.
``It's like going to the senior prom and two days later going to bingo at the church,'' Oakland first baseman Mike Sweeney said. ``It's kind of a letdown but you have to gear back up. It'll be exciting to get after it. Hopefully we'll get after it.''
The teams split the two games in Japan, with the Red Sox rallying to win the first 6-5 behind a two-run double by Manny Ramirez in the 10th inning and the A's winning the finale 5-1 behind strong pitching from Rich Harden and a three-run homer from Emil Brown.
The two teams returned to the United States and played three exhibition games over the weekend, with the Red Sox taking on the Dodgers in Los Angeles and the A's playing their annual Bay Bridge series against the Giants.
Now it's time to gear back up for real games that once again will count in the standings.
``For me its uncomfortable because there's a switch and you can't turn it on and off every time you want to,'' Boston shortstop Julio Lugo said. ``When it's on you've got to be on. It's not the best thing. It takes a lot out of you. When you're in games, games that mean something, you prepare yourself differently than you do in exhibition games. It's uncomfortable.''
Recovering from the long trip hasn't been easy for the four previous teams that have opened their season in Japan.
The New York Mets came home and lost five of seven in 2000 before bouncing back and making it to the World Series. The Chicago Cubs went 1-5 after the trip with the Mets on the way to a last-place finish.
Four years later, the New York Yankees opened against Tampa Bay. The Yankees won just seven of its first 17 games after the trip, but did find their legs after that to win the division. Tampa Bay went 6-14, but then again it's hard to blame those struggles on the long trip.
Now it's up to Boston and Oakland to avoid those kinds of struggles.
``To tell you the truth, I don't like it,'' Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said. ``It's too much going to Japan for two days and then coming here. We got to do what we got to do. But personally I don't like it.''
In fact, the Red Sox will play opening day in three countries before hosting their own opener at Fenway Park next Tuesday against Detroit. After starting the season in Japan and playing the first game in Oakland, the Red Sox travel to Toronto to play the Blue Jays in their home opener on Friday.
When the teams take the field Tuesday night in Oakland, it will be the same pitchers who faced off in the opener: Joe Blanton for Oakland against Daisuke Matsuzaka.
Matsuzaka allowed two runs, two hits and five walks in five innings, while Blanton gave up three runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings. Both pitchers got a no-decision.